Ask the Roaster - Bradley from Horsham Coffee Roasters
How was the Roastery founded, what was the inspiration?
The roastery was founded after a work secondment to Canada for a winter in 2011. After spending time out there seeing the micro roasteries we realised there may be a market for that in the UK. Back in 2012 there were very few roasters in Sussex with a focus on Specialty coffee. Using a 1kg roaster and our garage we decided to change this. We’ve learned a lot over the years and we’ve grown (though we’re still a small team of just 5 people) but what drives us stays the same. Our goal is to source the best, ethically traded coffees in the world and through developing a highly methodical approach to roasting with the highest possible focus on quality control, bring them to our customers.
We first started selling our coffee through a stall at the Horsham food market. Horsham, if you don’t know, is a beautiful market town in the heart of Sussex and, of course, our namesake. We’d be there every Thursday and Saturday come rain or shine from 2012 until late 2013. It was a steep learning curve and as we muddled through demand for our coffee increased so we must’ve been doing something right. Coffee production wasn’t the only thing that grew - our family did too! So eventually we had to give up the stall at the market after the birth of our second son, because evidently trying to steam a flat white and feed a small child simultaneously isn’t good for anyone. Our experience at the market was incredibly valuable and ultimately was the launch pad for what Horsham Coffee Roaster was to become and is today. It also helped us meet many of the wonderful folks involved in the local coffee community such as our now long standing team member Stephen, who at the time was on his way to Toronto - the city that started our own coffee journey - to begin his path as superstar barista. Stephen now owns and runs Urban Botanica, a fantastic coffee shop in Kennington, South London. Leaving the market really allowed us to focus on the sourcing and wholesale side of things as well as the space to increase our roasting capacity.
Through our market presence we very quickly found local customers keen to use our coffee. Now a few years on we have a wholesale family that reaches from the South of England to Scotland and into mainland Europe. The business has moved twice to facilitate growth and we now roast using a 35kg Loring S35.
What's your favourite part about working at the Roastery?
There are so many things to enjoy, having a family run business means flexible working which is so important to our family, being able to attend school events for our children is a massive bonus. The work itself is so rewarding, the science of perfecting roast profiles, visiting origin countries, meeting producers and constantly cupping and sourcing, then roasting the best coffee we can find is very enjoyable (and tasty!) The people who work here are all hard working and lovely people which also makes coming to work enjoyable.
What's your proudest accomplishment?
Bradley worked hard to gain his Q grading certificate back in 2017 which made us very proud, as well as being very useful to the roastery! But I think our proudest moment has been meeting the producers at Bwishwasa washing station in Rwanda, as a co operative it was important for them to work with a roastery that would commit to working with them year after year. They welcomed us and showed us round and were so grateful when we told them we would increase the price paid to the farmers due to the excellent quality they were producing.
Increasing your price without being asked may get you fired from The Apprentice (sorry Lord Sugar) but knowing the difference you are making in people’s lives is worth way more than business acumen. We’ve managed to achieve this completely independently of the traditional importer route which enabled us to be the first roastery in the UK to sign the pledge agreement at https://www.transparency.coffee which is something we are very proud of.
What three words best describe your Roastery?
Quality - Ethical - Independant
What’s your favourite place to enjoy a coffee, and what coffee would that be?
In either of our 2 co-owned shops, Bond St Coffee (Brighton) or Urban Botanica (Kennington) or curled up on the sofa at home! Couldn’t possibly choose one coffee, there are two many good ones! But if I had to choose 2, either a delicious Rwanda Flat white, or a black filter Kenya.
Finally, what Dog & Hat combination would you choose?
Our Dog Kaldi the Labradoodle in our children’s souvenir Scottish hat.